Increasing the bottom line; that’s what business is all about, right? Doing less but getting more. Working smarter, not harder. There are plenty of phrases to fit the bill, but how do you actually get there? Time management skills are essential for productivity in both personal and professional settings.

Before we get into the different essential skills for time management regarding productivity, there are some key components to ponder.

Self-Awareness – You need to be aware of you! Being real about your strengths and weaknesses will go a long when you start building on time management skills. Are you exceptionally creative? Are you better with numbers than words? Knowing where to draw the line in the sand and ask for help is imperative.

Goals – Before anything else, write down your goals. Why are you looking at ways to improve your time management skills? Without goals, there is no direction.

Organization – It’s nearly impossible to think with a clear head if the space isn’t clear of clutter and junk. The easiest way for the disorganized individual to get on the right track is by “tasking” an organization project each day or week. The real trick is keeping things organized. It takes a bit of self-training, but it’s doable and worth the effort in the long run.

With the above key components in play, the next phase is to really dive into essential time management skills to enhance productivity. Often we tend to look beyond what might otherwise seem obvious out of pure habit. We get into set routines in our lives.

Veering from the set path might seem intimidating, daunting and even a waste of time. On the contrary, how can we know if another method would save time if we don’t even give it a try?
The mere fact that you’re reading this means you are probably serious about learning time management strategies and how to incorporate them into your world.

So, let’s take a good look at a few time management essentials, shall we?

Early Bird Gets the Worm

It’s true in our personal and professional lives; the ones who get up earlier are met with fewer distractions and get more done. While everyone else is still sleeping think about all the things you could get done! Household chores, meditation, working out at the gym, research, grocery shopping, etc. The list is virtually endless.

Prioritize Your Task List

Only you can decide what takes priority over another on your task list. Obviously, time-sensitive tasks with upcoming due dates should rank somewhere near the top. After that, it’s all subjective. Find a system for prioritizing tasks that works for you and stick to it.

For example, many use the 1-3-5 method for daily task lists: 1 big task that might take more brainpower or time to accomplish, 3 medium tasks which need to be done, and 5 smaller tasks you would like to get done but are not opposed to moving them to the next day should you run out of time.

Schedule Tasks

Just prioritizing isn’t going to cut the mustard. Putting tasks on a schedule creates a visual display of a timeframe and how it will be best used. If you find you aren’t quite finished with a task and it’s time to move on, you are forced to make an executive decision.

Can this task roll to tomorrow’s schedule or does this need to be finished before moving on? The biggest mistake people make though is not scheduling time for self-care (ie. yoga class, gym, manicure/pedicure, coffee with the girls, etc.). If you aren’t happy and healthy, you simply aren’t going to be very productive.

Set Deadlines

Procrastination is a terrible habit to feed. Without deadlines, many of us would wait until the last minute for just about anything. Set realistic deadlines for your projects and tasks so you’ll make more efficient use of your time. For instance, if painting the bedroom is on the list, give yourself one week.

If the goal is to lose 20 pounds, a healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, so allow three months just to be safe. The more realistic you are, the better the results.

Delegate and Outsource When Necessary

We can’t all be efficient at everything. This is where self-awareness comes into play in a big way. If you aren’t good at taxes, don’t take on that task. Instead of spending countless hours scouring over tax forms and researching current tax laws, outsource this to an accountant. Utilizing available resources conserves both time and energy.

Multitasking Must Stop

Probably the hardest to swallow is giving up multitasking. It may seem as though those who multitask are being uber-efficient and getting so very much accomplished all at once, but the opposite is true. Focusing on a single task ensures a job well done whereas multitasking produces subpar results on several tasks at once.

See, that wasn’t that hard. Employing these few essential time management skills into your daily routine will boost productivity and thus, allow for more free time for the things you want to do, like catch a matinee or take scuba diving lessons.

Don’t cheat yourself out of precious time by underutilizing the hours in a day; they are the same for everyone. Start new and arm yourself with foolproof time management strategies to get things done!